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This will be quite a read but here it goes, I need to know

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This will be quite a read but here it goes, I need to know what my rights are in terms of police seizing my property. In this case 8 horses. On June 9th, 2012, there were 4 horses dropped off at my property (one was for training, the other three were to train and resell). Each one had a disease known as strangles, which is highly contagious between horses. These four then gave it to my three personal horses and my whole herd got thin from it. Then I got weight on them, and the strangles mutated and went through them all again. This time they got scary thin and I had the cops called on me from people who saw them from the road. The Sheriff came out once, I asked him if he wanted to look at my horses, and he said no and left.

After this Sheriff came out, a detective and cops came out to my property several times while I was not home and they did not leave any notices or anything that said that they were out here. In late August, I was in town with my husband and my mother in law called my husband and said that the police were on the property looking at the horses. When we pulled up, I was greeted by a detective, a Sheriff and a vet. They went on to tell me how thin my horses were and how they needed to be fed and watered and have shelter and that if they came out again, they would seize my animals and I would be charged with 7 counts of animal cruelty. They did not listen to what I had to say about these horses' history, much less what was wrong with them. The vet did not take any fecals, draw blood or even care to look under their jaws and notice the huge blister like puss filled gouges under them. Again, they did not have a search warrant or court order to be out here.

Now I just had a filly pass due to a hoof abscess in February. She was down for a lengthy period of time because of this abscess (I was in Bismarck giving birth to our second son so I do not know for sure how long she was down). But when I came home, her leg was beyond swollen and there was no way she could get up. We went through a blizzard the next two days, and she passed in early morning the day the vet was going to come out. I had to have a necropsy performed on her for insurance purposes, and the vet that was doing the necropsy looked at me and said that she was "a little thin". I told the vet "no, shes been getting top quality hay and feed". (By "top quality, I mean the best stuff on the market for horses, which is Standlee Hay, at $15.00 a bale for a 50 pound bale.

Then on March 27th, the detective and sheriff that were out last August, came out and looked around (again with no search warrant) and the detective told me that the vet that had done the necropsy turned me in and said that I had starved that filly to death. So she went and made a few phone calls, came back and told me that she was going to seize them that day. She and the sheriff left, and a couple hours later were back with a truck and trailer and a vet and seized them. Once again, no warrant, no court order, and ALL (except for two, but they were in good shape too) my horses were seized. They were all healthy (except those two that were still gaining weight from the strangles that ended in December in them). They were all fit, sound, had excellent weight and had fresh water. They were fed by hand (we live on a dry lot) and one would think that they were owned by a professional horse person (which I am).

I asked the Sheriff if they could seize my horses with no warrant, and he told me yes.

I dont really know what to do here. I dont want to be in trouble for something I did not do, and I really dont want animal cruelty counts on my record because I am not cruel to animals. Never once starved or neglected any of them. And, I want at least two of these horses back. Any suggestions?
Hi, I'm a moderator for this topic. I've been working hard to find a professional to assist you right away, but sometimes finding the right professional can take a little longer than expected.

I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you. Thank you!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I can wait :)
Thank you for your patience., Stephani. We will continue the search for a Professional for you.
Hi-I'm a licensed attorney and will be assisting you with your question. Please give me a short time to research the issue a bit and come back here later for any questions I might have for you and any pertinent information I find. I look forward to working with you.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Ok thank you so much! Looking forward to hear from you!
Hi- I wanted you to know I've begun research into North Dakota animal cruelty laws. I didn't see in your post what section you were charged with. I did find the following:
36-21.1-05 Animal with infectious disease.

No person owning or having charge of any animal, knowing the animal to have any infectious or contagious disease, or to have recently been exposed thereto, may knowingly permit such animal to run at large or come into contact with another animal, or with another person without the person's knowledge and permission.

In this regard any statements you make to a police officer or detective are admissions or could be used against you and as such silence is golden because I believe this is a misdemeanor at east. Do you know which statute they are charging you with? There are different statutes for different types of "cruelty" which is why I ask.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hi! I haven't been charged with anything yet.
On June 9th, 2012 I had four horses dropped off. They had "just gotten over" strangles, or so I was led to believe. One of these horses was my cousins, one was my moms, and the other two I took in to train and resell. They all came from the same place, the lady/breeder brought them to my house on Staurday June 9. My property isn't big enough to keep everyone far away from each other for 30 consecutive days to prevent any "leftovers" from spreading to my personal horses.

I've had horses for most of my life (16 out of 21 years), so I did know immediately when my horses started losing weight in late August. I thought that there would have been no need to call in vet assistance (what would they have done to a virus?), so I didnt. August 27th, 2012 (I believe) a detective, sheriff and vet were in my yard and petting my horses. I did immediately tell them that the horses had strangles. They seemed to not care and went on to tell me about "proper horse care". Then the detective pulled me aside and told me if they were out here again they'd seize my horses. Then they left. No paperwork was left or sent to me, nothing.

So I started taking TONS of pictures of my horses. I have 1,621 on my iPhone of them in fact. I just did what I've Benny doing and all but forgot about what had happened. I bought a filly from a friend of mine in October and kept her isolated from the rest of my herd as she wasn't even a year old and the second youngest I had was two and a stallion. In mid December, I left for Bismarck to have our son. I didnt come back until late February, after he was born. The first weekend of March I went to check on this filly and she was down with this huge abscess on her hind leg. My mother in law (who was taking care of the horses while we gone), did call me two weeks prior to this and did tell me that this filly has been laying down a lot. I didnt expect her leg to be so swollen when I saw her though.

Anyway, we went through a blizzard that weekend so no vet could come out and look at her. She passed two days later, so I called my insurance company and told them that she had passed and they told me that I needed to get a necropsy done. I took this filly in two days later. The vet was not my personal vet, and didnt say anything or ask hardly any questions. All she asked was how long the filly had been down, how much I've been feeding her and she was a little thin. This filly had been down for quite a few days, I don't honestly know how long for sure, and she's been lying down quite often the past two weeks.

Then on March 28th, I had the same detective knocking on my door that had been here before. She asked me to go outside and just looked around and told me she was going to make a phone call. She came back and told me she was told by a vet to seize them. Didnt tell me why. I kept my mouth shut almost the entire time they were here taking my horses. I only asked the sheriff if they needed a warrant to be here. Then I left it all be.

I really feel like I have done something wrong when I haven't. I had 8 horses seized, and all but two were in excellent condition. The two that were about a 4 on the body condition scale. Hope this helps some...

As there is a lot of research involved with this question I have asked that it be reopened, if that's ok with you and will be working on it today if they reopen it or as soon as they do. Is this acceptable to you?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yes! I will do that :) thank you!
North Dakota actually is considered to have lenient laws when it comes to animal cruelty. That being said, with regards XXXXX XXXXX seizure of your horses without a warrant I found the law that basically gives any joe schmo cop the right to do what they did if they have "Reasonable Cause to Believe' cruelty has occurred and then they can even sell them to pay for the expenses. A copy of the bill is here:

"SECTION 9. A new section to chapter 36-21.1 of the North Dakota Century Code is created and enacted as follows:
Seizure of animal - Warrant - Court order.
A law enforcement officer may seize an animal, without a warrant or court order, if:
a. (1)
There is reasonable cause to believe that the animal has been subjected to
an activity prohibited by this chapter; and
(2) During the time normally required to obtain a warrant or a court order, the
animal would be subjected to extreme suffering; or Other exigent circumstances exist.
A law enforcement officer seizing an animal without a warrant or court order, in accordance with subsection 1, shall show cause for the action thereafter. If the court finds sufficient cause, the court shall issue an order ratifying the seizure of the animal. If the court finds insufficient cause, the court shall order the return of the animal to its owner or order any other appropriate remedy."

This constitutes the first portions of my analysis. I invite you to ask me questions until you are satisfied enough to rate it. My work continues...
In reference to the above analysis, the taking of your horses will be easy for them, particularly wit the assistance of a vet since all they have to prove is reasonable cause that abuse or neglect is present. Note: they don't have to be right. Ideally, if you can prove them right, you can get your horses back, but unfortunately they could be sold by then. I would call and ask how long they keep the animals before they sell them. Do not say ANYTHING else about yourself or the case. Just find out so you know how much time you have to try to beat this thing.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I thank you so much for all your help! I will contact someone today about the time frame.

If my horses have already been sold, would there be any way I could get them back? They all had water, all but two were 100% healthy, and all got fed too quality feed twice a day.

Again, thank you so much. I surely appreciate it!
I didst find anything pertaining to your rights once the animals are sold. I would imagine that if you are charged with a crime and found guilty, a condition of your sentence would most likely keep you from harboring animals in some way. However, if no case comes of all this I would ask my lawyer to get a "release" whereby the district attorney acknowledges that these are not evidence nor of any legal use to them now and they must be returned to you. I think you should have your lawyer do this. It seems unfair to pay for your own horses. But if it comes to that I found no law prohibiting it.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Ok thank you. This just baffles my mind. I didnt do anything wrong.
That's why you have to fight it as far as you can. Unfortunately, it's up to the personal opinion of a few people who can wreak havoc on your life. Hang in there. Fight the good fight. Find a vet who can testify as to your version of things. Make them prove everything and in the meantime make a motion for the release of the animals. It's a longshot, but since they have yet to charge you with anything they have no legal entitlement, one could argue.

I hope this has been helpful for you. I'm sorry that you are going through this and wish you the best. If you have follow up questions, even after you rate my answer, you can ask them as they arise so don't hesitate. But I do ask kindly if you wouldn't mind rating my answer three or more stars. This is how I get credit for my work. Thank you again and i wish you the best.
When you have time, would you mind rating my answer three or more stars so I get credit for giving you the answer? You can still ask follow up questions afterwords if you need to. I thank you in advance and it was a pleasure working with you.
SmithEsq, Criminal Defense Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 114
Experience: Experienced practicing criminal lawyer ready to answer your questions regarding charges, laws, bail and more.
SmithEsq and 2 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hi! Thank you so much for all your help! I will rate you now :) thank you again!